DAILY INSIGHT: Where is the app integration and innovation in K-12?

By Steve Young, CIO Advisor

I came back from TCEA, underwhelmed, not by the myriad of great presenters, but by vendor product offerings. Where were the companies transforming education and interconnecting systems so that educators can leverage multiple platforms as needed to help provide a better, more integrated learning experience? Most of what I saw was just incremental improvements of existing products. While there were some standouts, I was not wowed.

I came home to beautiful warm weather over the weekend and decided to work off too many conference calories by exercising. I thought about how technology has transformed fitness for me in the past couple of years and it struck me that other industries are embracing interconnected app and data ecosystems much faster than K-12 education. I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track weight, calories, exercise and more. I chose this app mainly because of its very robust third-party integration. It integrates with Endomondo, which I use to track running, walking, and cycling. So I donned my bluetooth headset, which allowed me to play cloud-streamed Spotify music, while I biked many miles to be tracked by GPS on Endomondo. At the end of the ride my ride, data was automagically synced from Endomondo to MyFitnessPal, allowing me a seamless experience that made working out a less-taxing, more enjoyable experience. That is what is needed in education. We need products that integrate easily together and provide students and staff enjoyable and powerful educational experiences.

We are seeing more companies do this. Products such as Google Apps for Education, Schoology, and Edmodo, just to name a few, are working on app ecosystems so staff and students can easily integrate apps and data for a seamless and more productive learning experience. We need a lot less siloed products that are hard to manage and do not share data and functions with other apps or systems. Am I wishing for too much, or do our students deserve this?

Steve Young is CTO of Judson ISD in Texas and founder of the San Antonio Area Technology Directors group. He blogs at CTO Technotes, where this is cross posted. Follow him on Twitter as @atemyshorts.